What is acute flaccid myelitis, the mysterious polio-like disorder affecting kids?

Adjust Comment Print

A puzzling condition that causes partial paralysis in children is back on the uptick in parts of the USA, with six cases under investigation in Minnesota and 14 reported in Colorado, health officials said Monday.

AFM affects the nervous system, specifically, the central region of the spinal cord which is filled with grey matter-a type of nerve cell.

Since 2014, more than 360 cases of AFM have been reported in the U.S.

AFM is not a reportable disease, meaning there may be more cases that were just treated and the child recovered and AFM wasn't diagnosed.

In September 14 report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Colorado health officials said in that May Children's Hospital Colorado had notified them of an increase in meningitis and encephalitis in pediatric patients who tested positive for enterovirus, with EV-A71 identified in 34 children with neurologic disease. From August 2014 through August 2018, the CDC has been notified of 362 cases of the illness, mostly in children. Three cases were reported in 2017, and one other case was reported in Washington since the beginning of 2018. It existent with contained limb is the weakness of unknown cause. Polio is the most significant disease caused by an enterovirus.

Griffith said the cases usually come to light when parents notice acute muscle weakness or paralysis in their child and bring them to a health provider.

Now there is no treatment for AFM, and the exact cause is unknown. "A person's arms and legs can become weak or paralyzed depending on the area of the spinal cord that is inflamed". Most patients must be hospitalized.

Four-year-old Orville Young is believed to be the first patient in the Minnesota cluster.

In Minnesota, health officials have fielded calls from the public and doctors about how to prevent the onset, Griffith said.

If parents see any of the symptoms in their kids, doctors are urging them to seek medical care as soon as possible.

But there's not much else that parents can do to protect their children.

Nearly any viral infection can cause neurological symptoms, although it's extremely unusual, so the CDC says it is also important to be fully up to date on vaccinations.

Editor's Note: The video above was originally published in 2016.

The health department says there are no specific recommendations for avoiding AFM, but washing your hands, avoiding close contact with sick people, cleaning surfaces with disinfectants, and staying up-to-date on immunizations is recommended.